His Love

Remembering With a Friend Today

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Death, Friendship, His Love, Hope | 8 comments

He loves & listens

 

We turn the pages of our calendars to October today. For some, it’s a joyful welcome to the new fall season. But for my dear friend Debbie, it’s a reminder she faces a month peppered with memories – both good and hard.

Five years ago today, her family welcomed the first grandchild into their lives. Inexplicable joy came in the form of a redheaded bundle delivered by her youngest born. For the next three years, pink exuberance took over the family gatherings.

Coming up in a couple weeks another more difficult date looms on Debbie’s calendar. Two years ago on an October Sunday morning, her granddaughter’s residency drastically changed. While her parents slept peacefully down the hall, little Eisley was ushered to her heavenly home without warning, without explanation and without a kiss good bye.

Can you even imagine burying a three year old – much less, your daughter, your niece, or your granddaughter?

My heart aches for the October grief this family suffers each year. Dates scream out the ‘what if’s’ as birthdays and meaningful holidays pass by. And the memory of leaving her little body at the cemetery – could there be anything more difficult.

As Debbie’s sister in Christ and friend, I apologize for trying to understand her grief – or worse, trying to make sense of it. Grief is painful. Grief is long lasting. Grief needs understanding and sensitivity.

Eisley’s memory is worth keeping alive no matter how hard it is. Debbie needs Eisley’s memory to be kept alive. So as her friend, I need it also.

CS Lewis said in his book Grief Observed, “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” This is hard truth!

The Holy Spirit offers comfort. The Word of God sustains. But we, her community and family – are called to be the gauze and tape. We squeeze with pressure until the bleed subsides. Each October the wound reopens. Each October my friend needs holding.

Recording artist Laura Story knows about pain and suffering.

Remember a friend today as you listen to her beautiful call to embrace our hard places. Please remember my friend Debbie and her family today too – October 1, 2013 – on what would have been Eisley’s 5th birthday. Pray for unveiled mercy.

 

 

 

Read More

Courage at Sunset

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Courage, Extraordinary Everyday People, His Love | 4 comments

sunset 1

 

“Courage is grace under pressure” Ernest Hemingway

 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for God is with you; he will never leave you” Deut. 31:6

 

Sometimes courage seems to appear in sporadic doses while at other times a daily dose of courage is the only way to face the day. Until recently I thought courageous people were born courageous and that courage flowed from them anytime a situation called for it. But recently I’ve witnessed the loveliest demonstrations of courage in unlikely people and in unlikely places. Courage is always noteworthy. Courage inspires.

My friend Lilly lives in a skilled nursing facility, where in my opinion, she doesn’t really belong. Our paths crossed a couple years ago when I was visiting a family member. She stands out from the others who live there. Most residents are either bedridden or in wheelchairs but Lilly can be found upright scurrying about connecting with people most every day. Her passion is people, whether they’re residents or visitors. She prays for the sick and encourages the downtrodden. Her faith is the driving force of her life. She lives to know her faith has influenced others and craves affirmation of that fact.

Lilly doesn’t see herself the way others see her. Externally she appears to be confident, gregarious and lighthearted. Internally she questions herself. She pushes back resentment for being placed in an environment where she doesn’t belong. She’s saddened to reside in the waiting room of death alongside roommates who don’t have the ability to communicate with her. She’s lonely for family and purpose. Her circumstances suggest her influence is over and she’s been forgotten. It takes tremendous strength and courage to face each day with the smile she wears.

Courage is often an internal force we choose to draw from when circumstances demand it. It’s kept alive by a deep sense of hope – by desperation really. Other times, courage claims a circumstance spontaneously like a firefighter who runs into a burning building. Afterward we look back and marvel at its behavior.

Courage isn’t always obvious or cloaked in a uniform. The daily courage Lilly taps into is rooted in the awareness of her own need. Isolation can weaken the ability to recognize courage and threatens its demise. However, courage can be cheered on by friends who understand and love authentically. Care and nurture fan the flames of courage, especially in the sunset hours of life.

Celebrate courage in someone elses life today. Be courageous yourself by claiming your own hope and sharing it with another.

Lord, grant me grace to ground what I do in acceptance of being yours. Place my actions in the stillness of your courage.

Read More

A Need in the Neighborhood

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in God Speaks, His Love | 4 comments

kitten

 

She had no problem flirting with us through our back glass door. Casually strutting back and forth she waved her silky tail and batted her beautiful eyes at us. She obviously knew how to work for food. Although entertaining, my husband and I agreed we were not in the market for a new pet. We only fed her occasionally. No real commitment, just small manageable acts of kindness toward a cute stray cat we barely knew.

 

Turns out several of us were feeding her. We didn’t give the furry creature a second thought when we left for a two week vacation. After all, she wasn’t our pet, or our problem – just an occasional novel guest.

 

When we returned from our trip one of our neighbors informed us they suspected “our” new cat had given birth to a litter of baby kittens while we were gone. They proudly let us know several neighbors had been feeding our cat until we returned home. I suddenly felt like a participant in the Little Red Hen story. We all had enjoyed Miss Furry Flirt’s company, but none of us wanted any part in the responsibility stage of the relationship. Apparently we became the designated owners since she picked our house to give birth.

 

Each of us denied owning the cat. She continued to beg at each of our back doors while hiding five babies under our deck.

 

The question became – at what point is a problem, my problem. Was she my problem even if she wasn’t my pet?

 

I have to say, “Yes”.

 

Unfortunately we tend to treat some needs the same way our neighborhood treated the cat. We throw occasional scraps out our back door, giving ourselves credit for generosity, while giving ‘the needy’ reason to beg elsewhere.

 

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus defines who our neighbor actually is. Simply put – anyone with a need.

 

The Samaritan stopped – attended to the man, carried the man, and paid for his needs until the man could care for himself.

 

Our cat showed me how superficial I can be. She showed me what genuine commitment looks like.

 

Commitment is messy, costly and lasting.

 

When we serve and love our neighbor appropriately, we demonstrate our love for God.

 

I’m grateful He speaks – even through a four-legged, gray tabby mama cat and her five babies.

 

And Jesus said, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man in need?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 

Jesus told him, “Go, and do likewise.”

 

Today I peek at the wonder of generosity and commitment.

 

(Please hit READ MORE for the Comment Box to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you)

 

Read More

Eyes to See – part 3 of 3

Posted by on Jun 22, 2013 in Extraordinary Everyday People, His Love | 2 comments

(Part 3 of 2 previous posts… thanks for reading)

Standing in line behind me was Peggy. From lifestyle choices to personal beliefs, we were polar opposites. Her quiet voice made it difficult to engage in small talk while waiting in line, but I tried. “So what prompted you to volunteer for the Homeless Fair today, Peggy”, I asked.

As her eyes shifted to the floor she told me she understood the homeless and loved them.

Still probing, I learned a little about Peggy’s life. She lives alone. Her one bedroom apartment is located near the downtown area where many of our homeless community gather. On her limited income she often uses several of the services we were offering at the fair that day. 

Peggy also shared with me she prepares sandwiches for the homeless every morning in her small apartment kitchen. She makes an average of 25 sandwiches seven days a week. “The preferred sandwiches are egg salad on a croissant”, I learned. She carefully packages each one in a plastic baggie and includes a folded napkin, “because everyone appreciates a napkin when they eat”.

She walks to town around noon and passes them out until they’re gone. Later in the day she returns to be sure all the baggies and napkins have been disposed of properly.

Can you imagine? Every single day –

Standing in my clean white t-shirt waiting to do service, I found myself wondering, “Why?”  

Speechless, I realized I didn’t need to KNOW why – I had been invited to SEE…

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see…”

Standing in line behind me stood the mystery of love. I saw God – not our idea of a God who shows up occasionally with fame, fanfare and formality, but the fully attentive, invested, humble and actively involved God.

I was drawn to a deep admiration and love for both Peggy and Gina. And for God, who loves so perfectly. I was blessed by Jesus with eyes that saw.

My heart craved to be a mysterious demonstration as well.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

 

Read More

Eyes to See – part 2 of 3

Posted by on Jun 22, 2013 in Extraordinary Everyday People, His Love | 2 comments

(Part 2 of 3 short posts. Thanks for stopping by…)

We arrived early to participate with several hundred other volunteers at our community’s annual Services for the Homeless Fair. Several local churches chose to participate. Seeing familiar faces made it easier to be there.

Although slightly nervous, I felt good about volunteering for such a worthy cause and was confident I was up for the task of escorting individuals through the service areas. I stood in line waiting for my assignment.

Our group looked like a well groomed sports team in our clean white uniform t-shirts and matching lanyards with volunteer slogans all over them.

Outside the door another line was forming. I could see men and women restlessly waiting to come in. They had a uniformed look as well. Theirs was gray and faded – dark and a little foreboding. A cloud of anticipation and nervousness seemed to permeate the air on both sides of the glass doors.

The service booths inside were impressive – offering free haircuts, medical attention, mobility assistance, phone calls home, and even pet care. Food and free items were abundant.

As I stood in line listening to instructions I found myself speculating about the volunteers, wondering what motivated each of them to be there. Two individuals in particular stood out to me.

I won’t forget them.

Gina was a young twenty-something girl. Her tattooed arms and legs trekked with determination from one end of the auditorium to the other. Her short spiked hair and pierced face gave her an edgy “I’ll talk to you on my terms only”, demeanor. I later found out she volunteers every year.

I also learned Gina was currently an unemployed social worker. She had a story, one of pain and abuse that compelled her to community service. According to her, there was no place for God in her current chapter of life. She served because there was a need.

The other woman I met was Peggy. Aside from our matching volunteer t-shirt and lanyard, she looked like she belonged on the other side of the door. She was frail and almost invisible. Her disheveled hair was in need of a cut, she had missing teeth and tattered shoes. In her soft voice I learned she came alone and had been a yearly volunteer since the fair’s inception.

Both Peggy and Gina taught me about the love of God.

As the doors opened wide to welcome those from the outside I watched the joining. The union of ragged clothes with clean t-shirts was interesting. Some encounters quickly became agitated, even hostile, and ended rather quickly. Some seemed forced and awkward.

And then there was Gina.

I watched her work the room with ease. The first person she met rolled in on a skateboard, legless. His skin was darkened from life on the street but his eyes were alert. Gina instinctively joined him at eye level, on the ground.  She was a good listener. She cared – her whole body said so. She served him without reservation or agenda.

God loved this man and many others that day through Gina.
My eyes opened wide and I saw… 

 

 

Read More

Eyes to See – part 1 of 3

Posted by on Jun 22, 2013 in His Love | Comments Off on Eyes to See – part 1 of 3

(Part 1 or 3 short posts)

 

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it” Matthew 13:16-17

Throughout the gospels Jesus invites us to have eyes to see.

 

The suggestion we are lacking sight is accompanied by an offer to see the way he sees.

 

With that, I wonder what he sees and how we can see as he does. More importantly, how do we know if we’re in need of the sight he speaks of?
Jesus saw through the lens of his Father’s heart. His gaze was fixed on the activity of his Father.
He saw great mysteries. One of the many powerful mysteries was the demonstration of the mystery of love – His Father’s love.

 

In small unspectacular acts, love can still be seen.
We are able to see God as we look through the eyes of Christ to see his love demonstrated.

 

Such a mystery!

 

When we open our eyes to acts of mercy, kindness and love – we see him. The question becomes, is it possible that every act of love is guided through him, who is, in fact, love? And do we see it.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” 1 John 4:8

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, hopes and always perseveres” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Read More